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Why E-mail Is Cool

If you’ve used the Internet at all, odds are you’ve used e-mail. In fact, some people have only used the Internet for e-mail. E-mail is one of the oldest and most desired functions made possible by the Internet. Initially, e-mail was used on DARPANET[1] by researchers from all over the globe, for whom time zones had been a really big deal. Asynchronous communication was required, because people were not all at their desks at the same time. With e-mail, they could communicate without regard to time zones. Another big feature of e-mail is being able to write one message and send it to multiple people at the same time. This just wasn’t possible with standard mail, and it enabled discussion groups to be formed that couldn’t exist in other mediums. The final plus was attachments. Being able to attach a separate document to the mail and send it to someone—or to a group—helped people communicate more quickly and efficiently than they ever had in the past. With all of these things going for it, the popularity of e-mail began to grow.

[1] Defense Advanced Research Project Administration Network

E-mail wasn’t an overnight success, but as the network called the Internet grew in size and capability, e-mail was growing right alongside it. As e-mail use increased, the need for greater ease and added features increased too. And with more users, more features, and wider distribution came more security issues. The typical e-mail client being used in Windows today is much more complex than the first mail readers and has more built-in features than were even possible back then. But as the code and features expand, so do the possibilities for security holes that can be found and exploited.


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